A 15 year old girl had gone to take a bath in the morning and as she was not coming out after half an hour, the mother went and found her daughter unconscious inside the bathroom and brought her to Prakriya Hospital Emergency Department. The Emergency department doctors immediately asked whether they were using gas geyser in the bathroom and upon confirmation of the same, carbon monoxide poisoning was suspected. Since it was moderate to severe poisoning clinically and as the child was extremely confused, had low blood pressure and not breathing properly and most probably had a seizure before coming to the hospital, she was mechanically ventilated and given 100% oxygen which is the main treatment. Carbon monoxide levels were sent which also confirmed the diagnosis. She was taken off the ventilator in 6 hours time and thankfully does not show any major acute changes of carbon monoxide poisoning and is well at present. However Dr Arun Thomas, the treating pediatric intensivist says that all is not well as the child might still have some delayed neurological sequlae which can present as memory loss, personality changes and cognitive decline till upto 1 year after exposure.
This is the fifth case of carbon monoxide poisoning that has been seen at Prakriya Hospitals in the past 2 and half months and Dr Merriyet MB, Consultant Pediatrician says that even more cases may come up because of the low temperature and widened use of gas geysers at home with improper ventilation. Dr Mohan, the adult intensivist who has treated many such patients say that high index of suspicion and early diagnosis with prompt initiation of treatment has really helped in a positive outcome in all the 5 patients that have been treated and discharged from the hospital. With the late onset of winter and the rising use of gas geysers, people should make sure that the gas geysers should be switched off prior to taking a bath if the windows are all shut and there should be adequate ventilation in a bathroom or it may lead to serious health issues including death. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a very dangerous and potentially life threatening condition if not diagnosed early. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas produced by burning gasoline, wood, charcoal or other fuel. Improperly ventilated appliances and engines, particularly in a tightly enclosed space, may allow carbon monoxide to accumulate to dangerous levels. While its more commonly seen in western countries where the temperature tends to be low and people use gas warmers, the use of gas geysers and improper ventilation has led to the rise of carbon monoxide poisoning here.
Signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include:
- Dull headache
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Blurred vision
- Loss of consciousness
Carbon monoxide poisoning can be particularly dangerous for people who are sleeping or intoxicated. People may have irreversible brain damage or even die before anyone realizes there’s a problem.